Required Free Reading for 2nd Grade - Awesome!

Posted on October 20, 2014
My son's first novel-length book.
My seven-year-old son's second grade teacher has implemented a daily homework assignment where he must read at least twenty minutes every night. He has a monthly log sheet where he writes down the number of minutes he reads every night along with the title of the book and page count. I have to sign it as a witness.

I can literally kiss this woman. She had made reading part of his homework, which translates to being part of his grade, making it his responsibility just like any other homework assignment. Casual reading is no longer an option. Pure. Genius. 

Is this the right approach - making reading at home a part of their grade? I think so, at least for my kid.

By making it a homework assignment, kids are more inclined to getting it done. They get to pick a book from a long list of approved titles ranging from Harry Potter and Narnia to many Dr. Seuss books and other graphic novels. This, I believe, gives the kids a sense of control and adds to their enthusiasm. So far, from other mom's I've spoken too, their kids are on top of it just like my son.

And I love the log. It gives the kids a sense of accountability. Because children's reading levels are different, the teacher doesn't care how many pages you cover or how many words you read. She only cares about the amount of time dedicated to reading. Again...brilliant. 

It's a lot for a second grader, and it was tough the first week sitting with my son and helping him complete his required 20 minutes. But I looked at this as I do most things with my kids - it's always tough when you first start anything new. That first week, my son moaned and groaned before each reading session. He was distracted by everything and sometimes he fell asleep before his 20 minutes were up.

First 20-minute reading session
ended in 10 minutes.
After that first week, he started taking to it as he does his other homework assignments. With each session, he read more and held his attention longer, sometimes going over 20 minutes without knowing. Now, reading is often the first assignment he completes. He doesn't need me to sit next to him, just like I don't sit next to him when he's doing his other homework. It's his responsibility and, as he often says, he can do it all by himself! 

What's the best part? Hearing him talk about what he's reading. His eye's light up, he smiles his single-missing-tooth smile, and he even giggles as he tells me about the latest mishap in Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I never got this before with any reading assignment I imposed on him. This is priceless.

I always thought my son would be one of those kids who knows how to read but was just not interested in reading. I washed my hands of it, having lost hope that he would never love to read as much as I do. Each person is his own world, you can't push your interests onto your kids, and all that individualist-slash-hippie jazz.

But, I see hope in this approach. Just like he'll learn to multiply and do algebra with math, with reading he'll learn new vocabulary words, new topics that stimulate his mind, creative ideas he never thought of before, and a slew of other things. Maybe, if I'm lucky, he'll even learn to love it.


  1. I do like that. We've been home schoolers all our lives, just trying public school out of necessity (as in mommy is pregnant and probably can't handle both right now). The reading is definitely my favorite part of homework (since the math is ridiculous), but we always used to hit the library once a week and each kid had to pick out at least 1 educational book, and 1 for fun book to read through the week. My youngest is in second grade, and from what I'm hearing, he's probably the best reader in his class. I think reading is power. If they can learn how to obtain knowledge on their own, they're empowered for life.

    Unleashing the Dreamworld

    1. That's a great way to look at it. Learning doesn't only come from teachers. Thanks for stopping by Crystal!

  2. I think that's GREAT! I read voraciously as a child and I think it really gave me an edge in school. Absolutely! My daughter is only 6 weeks and you better believe she will be read to and will have a library card as soon as she gets old enough. Reading = knowledge = power!

    1. So far, we're feeding off the books my daughter's left behind, so no library card yet. But soon...